Two founding members of iconic reggae act Mighty Diamonds have died within days of each other.
The group’s lead singer, Donald “Tabby” Shaw, and bandmate Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson died on Tuesday March 29, and Friday April 1, respectively.
As reported by Rolling Stone, Shaw, age 67, was killed in a drive-by shooting in the group’s native Jamaica. Simpson died just three days later, age 71, following complications associated with diabetes. Simpson had also suffered a stroke in 2017 and been recovering from COVID-19.
Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, the Honourable Olivia Grange, said in a press release that Simpson had been “taken in for a check-up this morning, was admitted, and died later”.
“This double loss is really devastating,” Minister Grange said. “It is hard to believe that two members of the Mighty Diamonds would pass within days of each other.
“Rest in peace, ‘Mighty Diamond’ – Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson, and may light perpetual shine on you.”
Devastating to Lose ‘Bunny’ Diamond in the Same Week as “Tabby” Diamond – Grange pic.twitter.com/QMTkNV55Ct
— Hon.Olivia Grange (@Babsy_grange) April 2, 2022
Speaking with Jamaica Gleaner, Mighty Diamonds’ former manager, Copeland Forbes, said Simpson had not been informed of Shaw’s killing prior to his own passing. “Last night me and “Judge” [Mighty Diamonds member Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson] a talk and he said him never talk to Bunny yet about Tabby,” Forbes said.
Mighty Diamonds formed in the Trenchtown area of Kingston in 1969 and remained active until this year. Together, they are best known for their 1976 debut album, ‘Right Time’, which featured their hit single ‘Shame And Pride’.
In the ’80s, Mighty Diamonds achieved international success twice with the release of the 1982 ‘Changes’ cut ‘Pass The Kouchie’, written by Ferguson and Simpson. The song would later be covered by the group Musical Youth, released as ‘Pass The Dutchie’ after the song’s original lyrics were altered to remove the drug reference.
In 2021, Mighty Diamonds were conferred with the national honour of Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for their contribution to the development of Jamaican music.
Ferguson is now the only surviving member of Mighty Diamonds.